Making Melanomas Eat Themselves | Melanoma Dispatch |

Compared to normal moles, melanomas have low levels of a protein that may protect against cancer. The protein is called ATG5, and is linked to a process called autophagy that lets abnormal cells 'eat' themselves. In a new study that followed 158 people with melanomas that had not spread, tumors with low levels of ATG5 were more likely to get worse. The researchers also found that, when they added the gene most commonly mutated in melanomas (BRAF) to melanocytes grown in the lab, this normally made these cells eat themselves. However, decreasing ATG5 made these melanoma-like cells divide instead. These findings suggest that increasing ATG5 in early melanomas could make them eat themselves.